When Sandi, an orange tabby, failed to return home last Friday, owners Tim and Patricia Austin scoured the streets near Portsmouth in the UK hoping to find him. The couple immediately put up posters and handed out flyers, with no luck. Imagine their surprise to get a phone call three days later… with the news that Sandy was in Bilbao, Spain.
Sandi was discovered as an unticketed passenger aboard the P&O ferry the Pride of Bilbao, as it sailed from Portsmouth to the Spanish port.
Mr Austin said, “We know our cat wouldn’t have gotten into a car or van with strangers voluntarily even we can’t get him into a car. We think he got out of the vehicle on the ferry when someone opened the door and he ran.
Mr Austin said: “Sandi is such a lovely, friendly cat and it was completely out of character for him not to return in the morning and he is so well known we thought someone would find him.
“We put up posters but when we didn’t hear anything for a few days we thought he may have been caught by a fox or run over and we were heartbroken and started to give up hope.
“But we got a phone call out of the blue to say he had been found hundreds of miles away on holiday in Spain!
“From what I understand he lived a life of luxury on the ferry on the way back. The crew treated him like a king and fed him a special menu and were even upset to see him leave.
“Thankfully he had been microchipped so it was possible for the agencies involved to contact us. He would probably have been put down otherwise. But we are just glad he is back”.
Matt Ford, from Animal Health, the government agency for the safety of animals, said, “The first we knew about it was when P&O contacted us from their Portsmouth office on Monday to say ‘We’ve got this cat, what do we do with it?’.
“We were able to tell them what to do and once they could get it tested for a microchip they were able to get us the data.
“We were the first people to call the Austins it had been quite a traumatic time for them. They were clearly very happy and rather emotional to find that their pet was safe.”
Brian Rees, P&O spokesman, said: “Since he was found he’s been treated like a VIP he’s had a cabin to himself for the return journey and been dining on chicken and salmon. ‘I think most of the crew have had a cuddle they’ll be sad to see him go.”
The Austins now know Sandi is safe and he has been returned to Britain, but he can’t come home for up to six months because of quarantine rules.